better living through python

An adventure in programming and recovery.

Shame and Vulnerability

April 17, 2013

Last night Robey had me watch two TED talks, both by speaker Brene Brown (accent on last e in first name). The first is on The power of vulnerability. The second was on Listening to shame.

Both of these talks are very inspiring (as only TED talks tend to be). The first talk regarding vulnerability struck very close to home for both of us. Her main point, is how in order to really connect with others you must let yourself to be vulnerable. Without allowing yourself to be vulnerable you can keep yourself from doing so many things. Often this comes from a fear of failure.

The second talk focuses on listening to the shame within us. Talking about how there is definitely a difference between feeling shame and guilt. She discusses how guilt is healthy, in that it tells you that you feel bad about something. Shame expresses that you feel bad about yourself. Feeling bad about yourself is not healthy or productive.

For so much of my blog, I’ve found that allowing to discuss my experiences, even at their most painful, is exactly what means the most to other people and to myself. I do my best to share my vulnerability. When I’m not allowing myself to be vulnerable, then I’m the one preventing that connection.

Why do I choose to write some posts as a non-vulnerable entity? Often it’s from the shame of having written so many vulnerable ones prior. I’m afraid I will just look like one walking issue. And of course, with reflecting on her second talk, I’m realizing that allowing myself to be so vulnerable so often feels shameful, which is why I will not post at times. I’m never guilty regarding my vulnerable posts, so why should I be ashamed of sharing the things that are difficult or painful and make me human?

Looking towards the future

April 12, 2013

It’s time to get back to work on some of my programming projects. I’ve been catching up and enjoying my free time a bit much. The garden is half planted. It won’t take much more to get the rest of it finished up.

Part of my free time has been filled with working on Duolingo, doing the basic exercises to warm up my German. I’ve been doing some translation work again at my day job, and going through these exercises (while simplistic at times), still keeps my brain sharp to check for defined/undefined pronouns and so forth.

I’ve also been participating in the 100 pushup challenge. I’m up to week three and I’m really feeling the difference. Continuing to Rock Climb as well; one of these days I’ll get a picture up.

But back to programming and what to start with/where to go now? I’ve done a fair bit of Codecademy now, so I think it’s time to finish up some existing projects. Completing a couple of html/css aspects for my blog might be the first order of business, and then on to finishing up my game. Not to mention finishing up all the Codecademy courses, or looking into Coursera or more MIT OCW stuffs.

Continuing Education and the Day Job

March 29, 2013

I’ve been coding almost everyday for almost a month. It feels great learning to code again after such a long break. I’ve been messing around with several different tracks on Codecademy: the newly established php, jQuery and hoping to finish the final javascript section soon. The jQuery section is fantastic; I’m already learning new tools to use on my own website!

Robey and I have also been getting our garden together. We’re growing quite a bit this year: tomatoes, potatoes, peas, lettuce, kale, swiss chard, garlic, shallots, turnips, kohlrabi, cucumbers, radishes, and hoping for some eggplant, peppers and beans. Thanks to our new community garden plot, our total space has increased 33%.

I’m still fairly busy at work, but it’s slowing down a bit just in time for translations (Chemistry batch records German to English) to begin again. Just when I thought I might have a bit of brain power to do website work in the evenings! Ah well, I really should take a day off sometime in April so I can just work on my blog or my game. Unfortunately April is the month for planting, which means it would probably turn into a garden day anyways.

I’m also starting my first day of basic riding training today. This means that by the end of the weekend I may be certified to ride a motorcycle! Just another oddity to add to my list of capabilities.

On my current list of weekly activities - indoor soccer (normally 2 days a week), rock climbing (2 to 3 days a week), I spend one afternoon playing Halo with a good friend, working in the garden when I have energy/time, crochet (currently working on a throw blanket for the living room), and then hanging out with friends and of course…spending time with Robey. Life is busy!!

Returning from Dark Matter

March 05, 2013

To answer the question as to whether or not I exist, I am back. My day job has been very busy lately. Several friends have had children or are going to soon. I haven’t had a chance to program much at all.

I did get to finish my first afghan. Which, after two years, turned out much better than anticipated.

My first Afghan

Actually most of my free time has been filled with crochet, friends, and housework. I’ve gotten to a point that most Codecademy classes take a little more brain power than I feel I have after work. I’ve been rock climbing, crocheting, playing soccer, and now it’s almost gardening season. Then it’s only a hop, skip and jump until we’ll be canning our produce.

Finally comes a short vacation to the southern Oregon coast and I finally find some time to write a post, and visit my favorite website again (Codecademy). I have some amazing photos from our trip that I’ll try to get up eventually.

So yeah, what’s the difficult thing about trying to learn to code while working a full-time job? You’re working a full-time job. This means that learning to code has to become an overwhelming hobby for it to become a priority. My problem? I enjoy too many of my hobbies to give them up to make sure I get enough coding in.

Give up climbing, soccer or crochet? Not likely. So now I’ve got to devote some time each weekend to extending my coding education, because making sure it happens after work is not happening right now. I’m tired from work and I try to devote my remaining energy to getting some extra curricular exercise in, then when I’m done my brain’s fried.

So now….time to make sure my brain doesn’t fry.

Working on my first file Input/Output in python

January 28, 2013

Over the past two weeks I’ve been attempting to work on a small bit of python code for my day job. My hope was to find a way to use programming to do something productive for work, thus combining my work aspirations (FlamingLunchbox) with my 9 to 5 (if at least temporarily).

I was hoping to write an itemized list of things we needed for 2013 from a specific vendor, based on the total usage from last year’s purchases. So I requested a list from the vendor and exported it to a csv file.

From my understanding, it’s easiest to manipulate a previously excel spreadsheet via python once it’s in csv format. This formatting simplifies the information into lines of data, separated by commas. Since you now don’t have formatting code to deal with, you can get ready to manipulate your data more quickly.

When opening a file in python, you normally place the open file in a variable. In my code I do this with the following code: myFile = open(“myFile.csv”, “r”). When you’re opening a file you must make sure to close it, or else you’ll have open files mucking up your computer. You do this by ending your code with the line myFile.close().

I’m still working on how to organize the data once I’ve opened the file. I know you can use print myFile.readline() to print out each line in your csv file. However as I’m still stuck on how I want to organize my data, I don’t have anything else concrete to post today.

If you didn’t notice, I’ve been rather busy of late, thus the lack of posts. My day job is rather busy at the moment, plus I’ve been on the last downhill streak in finishing my first afghan. Being about 2 years in the making I’m desperately ready to be done with this project. I’ll post a picture of my monstrosity once complete.

In case you’d like a more in depth explanation of how to open/close, read and write files in python, check out this module on Codecademy, Python Track Course, File Input/Output.

Transitioning back into the 8 to 5

January 16, 2013

As like with many vacations, getting back into the swing of things afterwards can almost rid you of all your stored up relaxation. On top of that, so much time away from your regular life gives you lots of time to reflect and think about what’s really important to you.

It makes you think about where you’re going and what you want. Celebrating New Year’s and thinking about your resolutions at the same time? That’s double duty mind games.

It’s taken me a bit to get back into coding and working on the business after my normal 8 to 5. Just getting through the work day, then moving on towards…rock climbing, soccer or crocheting is a stretch. Half the time all I want to do is sleep.

I miss the time when I could devote a good portion of my day to coding, blog entry writing, and learning about building a business. Your own business can be so exciting as you make it happen. The ownership you get from that experience charges you and fulfills you in ways a normal employee based experience never can.

But for now I’ll keep focusing on trying to get what I can done…trying to squeeze a little bit of programming each day. Most of all, I’ll do my best to take it easy and not let all the projects and things I want to get done get to me. I’ll see what I can to to chill, even when life or work stresses me out.

Feet up at work, learning to not take it to heart

Back in the USA and a new year's Programming Goals

January 14, 2013

Getting straight back into the thick of things after a month of reflection and relaxation by going back to a 40 hour work week is enough to send almost anyone straight into depression. Luckily my office is filled with awesome people, which makes the prospect of coming back to a base 40 much more doable. This playlist from songza, American Campfire has also helped.

A sad side effect of getting back to my day job is that I unfortunately haven’t had any focused time in which I’ve devoted to programming since our return. It’s rather unfortunate because my favorite site (Codecademy) has started posting lessons on learning to use API’s for javascript, python and ruby. Which, of course, anything that helps to explain the intricacies that I have yet to understand… well they’re at the top of my list of Todo’s.

Which brings me to today’s topic, my 2013 Programming Goals. I don’t care how well I do at reaching all of these items, it’s more important that I have focus on where I want to go and that I work on going there. Without further ado…

  1. Finish Science Fiction Tower Power
  2. Complete and stay up to date on all added Codecademy Courses
  3. Finish the final touches on my blog and resume
  4. Create a peer network and meet with them on a regular basis

Plenty to work on, awesome stuff to complete. Also in case you’re interested, here is a link to the new Codecademy API lesson offerings.

Leaving Deutschland

January 02, 2013

It’s my last night in Germany, for now. These past couple of days I’ve felt a little down knowing that we would be going home. Then, at the same time, I’m excited to come home again. I’m a bit kerflummoxed.

I’ve learned a couple of things about Germany, things I don’t remember from before. German culture expects that people have common sense. American culture does not. Here dogs are allowed to go almost anywhere with their owners (stores, coffee shops, you name it). In museums artwork is literally within arm’s reach, with only a couple of people working on each floor in the museum. Germans simply expect people to have respect and…to have common sense. At least, this is my impression.

Granted part of common sense is also everyone knowing that litter will happen, which seems to make it more accepted. This means that after New Years the streets are littered with trash. Cigarette butts are everywhere, and broken glass is in between the cobblestones until workers have time to clean it all up. It makes it dirty, but then Frankfurt is a very big city. I haven’t spent much time in big cities in the US, I’m sure that part is fairly similar.

I will miss my friends here. I will miss some of the awesome cultural differences, and the church bells you hear in almost every city, that ring every hour. I’ll miss being able to use public transportation to get pretty much anywhere you want to go. I’ll miss being able to walk pretty much anywhere, and bakeries being a common occurrence.

I hope I get to come back soon. Not only so that I can continue to develop my language abilities, but so that I can continue to learn more about this awesome country I would love to call home one day. Who knows, I’m 30 now. I feel like more of an adult, and that makes me also feel like maybe living in Germany isn’t a dream, but a possible reality.

2012, a professional and personal review

January 01, 2013

This past year has been rather busy, as I like to keep most years. I’ve written 117 blog posts for betterlivingthroughpython. That’s just under an average of 10 blog posts a month. Knowing my blog posts tend to be about 250 words on average (with many going over and some going below), that makes a total of at least 29,250 words on my blog.

With regards to programming I’ve done quite a bit, however my new job has slowed it down. Not that I’m trying to say anything about my new job and the financial stability it brings (not to mention the awesome people I work with). However, it would be false to say I devote the same amount of time to programming that I did before.

With my personal discovery of Codecademy I’ve been able to make significant strides in my programming education. I can now say that I have a much more thorough understanding of javascript and python. I also have some rudimentary understanding of Ruby syntax.

I’ve continued to work on my game Science Fiction Tower Power, but I did not reach my goal of the year to finish it. I did, however, create a Chrome extension for my favorite indoor soccer website, and they seemed to like the idea so much that they made one of their own! That was an awesome success simply because I made something useful and I seemed to encourage another entity to do the same. Doesn’t matter I didn’t make any money, that new calendar addition they made has made my life TONS easier.

I also created and designed my new blog at Through this I learned how to use Github. I had a great time doing this, and it was a fantastic learning experience. It greatly increased my knowledge of HTML and CSS.

On a more personal note, here are some things I’ve done that aren’t blog and business related. I took a vacation around Southern Oregon with my family, went rafting for the first time and camped yet again at Gordon Lakes. Which, I have to say, the trip to Gordon Lakes was absolutely fantastic! Not only was the weather Ridiculously Awesome, but fantastic friends joined us (Tiana, Jason and family, Jens, Gium, Josanna and Gary). It was a great trip.

I’ve continued to play soccer, greatly enjoying the friends I’ve gathered from this over the years. I tried off and on to get back into running, however my favorite thing about the end of this year is that I started rock climbing again. Thank you Gary, that was by far the best gift I could have gotten this year. Due to this I can now do 30 pushups (whereas before I could do 3), and I’m climbing 5.9’s and V2’s. These aren’t knee pushups, but full on pushups. So my goal of this next year? 50 pushups in a row and hitting a V3 or V4 (these are Bouldering terms)!

My crocheting expertise has increased. I’m almost finished with my first Afghan. I’ve made countless booties (one set pig shaped), and I correctly sewed together several sets of flannel pajamas for Robey and I. Not to mention Robey and I together canned so much stuff it’s really hard imagine now just how much work we put in. We canned: 4 batches of jam (boysenberry, marionberry, green tomato mint/pepper and strawberry rhubarb), lots of stewing tomatoes, two different batches of salsa, a couple of smaller batches of dill pickles and our first good batch of sweet barrel pickles (these were not canned, but a barrel preserve process). Not to mention drying about 40 lbs of pears.

Ah yes, and then Robey and I went to Germany. Our first intercontinental trip together, definitely a rousing success. One filled with lots of museums, wonderful friends and good food. To top it all off the year ends with the City of Frankfurt doing it’s best to light itself on fire. I swear, everyone in the freakin’ city decided to light off every firework they could get their hands on. Mind you, these fireworks are all the kind that are illegal for the commoner to buy in Oregon, and people light them off any and everywhere (tops of buildings, by the river…and so on).

All I can say now is…Hey 2013, let’s see what we can do with you!

Bebenhaus Monastery

December 30, 2012

As you can probably tell, Robey and I have been quite busy lately with Weihnachten. However, not to distract myself from the other side trips we had in the meantime, I’m finally back to catch you up on the rest of our trip.

Before we left Tuebingen, we visited the Bebenhaus Monastery. It was, as many a monastery, gorgeous, silent and filled with dead bodies. That’s right, in several rooms and pathways the floors had the grave markers of former prominent members of the Monastery, with them buried just below.

Even in death they remained within the walls of their beloved home, making my skin tingle just a bit more on the frigid temperatures inside the stone commune. Our guide Tilo was fantastic, having been there several times before, and we received a great tour of the building. However, even before we got inside Jens and I did only what Monastery visitors should, and had an impromptu snowball fight on the surrounding walls.

Jens and I having a snowball fight, with me just dogging one as it sailed towards me

On our way back from the Monastery we hoped to go to the Weihnachtsmarkt in Tuebingen again, however we barely had time to get back in time for our bus. This was partially due to some unfortunate timing at a particular shop which closed 15 minutes early and severely adjusted our plans. In a rush we finished our Gluehwein, said hasty goodbyes to Tilo and jumped on the bus.